Clean energy journalism for a cooler tomorrow

Meet the novelty songwriter producing viral hits about climate change

Oli Frost chats with Canary’s culture correspondent about how he became a songwriter and why he sings about socialist vampires.
By Mike Munsell

  • Link copied to clipboard
Oli Frost created signs for the Global Climate Strike in 2019 | Oli Frost

Canary Media’s Climate Meets Culture column explores the intersection of energy, climate and the culture at large.

Oli Frost stands in a cemetery wearing a long, dark coat. With a Transylvanian accent and the backing of a synth-pop beat, he sings, Of course climate change is a conspiracy, made up by socialist vampires to push policies. A greener, fairer world, that’s our evil plot. Free-range organic humans have the most delicious blood.”

Oli Frost is a climate-change-focused novelty songwriter, and his song The Vampire Conspiracy” garnered millions of views across platforms like TikTok, Spotify and Instagram last year. It’s a real earworm. Not long after it blew up, Pique Action and Harvard Chan C-Change named him a Climate Creator to Watch in 2023.

We’ve traded a few emails since then, and I was happy when we finally connected over video chat in August to talk about how he ended up creating novelty songs, his songwriting process and, of course, socialist vampires.

The following is a lightly edited transcript of our conversation.

Mike Munsell: Can you introduce yourself?

Oli Frost: I’m Oli Frost. I make novelty songs about the climate crisis. I also work freelance for places like Greenpeace UK and create content for their channels as well.

I used to play hip-hop songs on a recorder as Recorda Boi, and that was what I was doing prior to starting to work on the climate crisis — I made a song and then I made another one and now I’ve made 15 because it seems to be something that I enjoy.

Subscribe to receive Canary's latest news

Munsell: You seem to have a knack for going viral online, even before you started doing the novelty songs. I’d love to hear more about that.

Frost: There was Recorda Boi, which was more of a performance-based thing, and I did that on Britain’s Got Talent. But before that, I was doing more like internet-based stunts.

I sold all my personal data on eBay, which generated a lot of press. That was around the time personal data and privacy was becoming a big conversation. And I made this [other] website where you could download people’s Instagram pictures and fake your own perfect online life, which tapped into the conversation around social media and mental health.

I found making websites soul-destroying. But the recorder thing was quite fun. So I realized it was about doing what I like doing and then focusing on one issue that I thought I could stick to.

Munsell: Many of your projects have some sort of activist bent. Is that something that happened by chance, or was it intentional?

Frost: With all the things I tried, I figured out that satire is what I enjoyed. And satire inevitably ends up being about causes and issues. So it ends up being an activist kind of space, inevitably.

Munsell: Was the The Greta Thunberg Song” your first climate song?

Frost: Yeah, that was it.

Munsell: Can you talk a little bit more about the inspiration behind the song?

Frost: I was working on something else — making stickers — and I wrote the line, Greta doesn’t eat feta.” And that just sort of emerged into a lot of other rhymes: Greta doesn’t wear leather. Greta is very clever.

I really pushed the limits of what rhymes with Greta.” I hadn’t finished a song before, but I had just left my normal job and clearly had too much time.

Munsell: Was the song pandemic-inspired at some level?

Frost: Well, it was around before the pandemic, but the pandemic gave me the time to dedicate to it.

Munsell: And then at some point, Greta got a hold of the song and did her own music video for it, right?

Frost: Yeah. That’s just one of those strange accidents that happen on the internet when something gets enough views. I think she was hanging out with some people from Fridays for Future Scotland, and they must have spent the day doing this kind of shot-for-shot remake. It was quite wild.

After that, I did a song about pirates — kind of a sea shanty — that was inspired by documentaries like Seaspiracy. And that was more of a story-based one.

And because that was the first one that blew up on TikTok, I made more songs with a character: a pirate, a vampire, a cowboy.

Munsell: I think the vampire one is what initially caught my attention when I reached out to you around this time last year.

Frost: Yeah, that’s definitely been the biggest by far. It’s gotten a lot of plays [editor’s note: at least 10 million across various channels], which is really interesting — it started as more of a throwaway thing that I wasn’t going to finish because I showed it to people — to my mum — and she’s like, oh, that’s a bit complicated. I’m trying to do a sequel at the moment, which is always a challenge.

Munsell: Can you talk more about the ethos behind the song and how you came up with it?

Frost: When I started working for Greenpeace, I was exposed more to their comments section. The climate-change-conspiracy people tend to congregate there.

That people think climate change is an evil conspiracy — you know, that we want to create more jobs and make cleaner air and protect the future of the planet — is quite funny. It always gets equated to socialism or something.

And then from there, I don’t know how the song became about vampires. I think my Soviet accent became a Transylvanian accent, which became a vampire because it was October, and then there had to be this motivation for the vampires to be socialist.

Munsell: Can you talk about your song The Magic Fix”?

Frost: The Magic Fix” is just following on from the vampire song, which was taking aim at the view that climate change is a socialist conspiracy. I was like, well, what are the other harmful views? And this one was that technology will save us.

And so The Magic Fix” is just about waiting for the day that we can put a unicorn horn on our head and turn the pollution into rainbow goo, and, you know, resurrect all the forests as candy floss.

Munsell: What’s your musical background?

Frost: I was originally a drummer, and then I developed a sort of drummer complex of not wanting to be just a drummer. So I learned the other instruments and could not really do anything with them because I refused to sing. But with that Greta song, I just decided I had to — no one else was going to sing it for me. So that’s been an additional quest. I imagine it’s a similar story to anyone thinking they want to do music as a teenager, then realizing it’s never gonna happen, and then returning to it later on.

Munsell: It’s certainly happening for you now. Is there anything else you’re working on?

Frost: I’m finishing a song that’s coming out tomorrow. This one is basically about the idea that if you wear clothes and you talk about climate change, then you’re a hypocrite. So what if you try to be a nudist or something? How difficult would things be? I’m just editing that at the moment.

Munsell: How about your musical and or comedic influences? Who inspires you?

Frost: Flight of the Conchords, because I liked how they played in different genres rather than just making one style of song. And I liked how they also had elements of drama and story.

Munsell: What do you think of music as a cultural tool to help address climate change?

Frost: If the songs get stuck in people’s heads and they’re about climate change, that has the potential to soften the preachiness or the boringness of the issue.

I read about climate change every day, but even for me, watching something that’s going to tell me about how terrible the world is — I will do it, but a part of my brain doesn’t want to.

So I’m trying to make things that people would want to look at.

Munsell: I just wrote an article about a solarpunk video game. Are you familiar with the idea of solarpunk?

Frost: I am. I’ve not done a deep dive into it, but it’s interesting.

Munsell: Maybe there’s an opportunity for a solarpunk song in the style of The Clash or the Sex Pistols — U.K. punk.

Frost: I can do U.K. punk — I did an early thing before the Greta song in 2019, and it’s in a very over-the-top punk voice, which I want to come back to. Yeah, I like it. You just can’t have any of the royalties.

Munsell: That’s fair. I’ll take a tweet or something.

Mike Munsell is director of growth at Canary Media.